WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Only on 9, a rare glimpse at a highly trained and specialized team that goes undercover to dismantle drug trafficking organizations, bring human smugglers to justice, serve high-risk arrest warrants, and even, secure the airspace over the Super Bowl in Blackhawk helicopters.
It's the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Response Team or S-R-T. By day, they're Special agents with Homeland Security Investigations.
"It is a constant effort to be ready, to be prepared and to have the right mindset," said John Torres, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations.
But on a moment's notice, they suit up and serve high-risk arrest warrants, dismantle drug rings and bring sex traffickers and human smugglers to justice.
"It's kind of like going into the phone booth, putting on the cape and out they come and they're ready," said Torres.
Training like this is critical.
"Today, they may be working a drug case, they may be working a fraud case, they may be working a sexual predator case. 31 But at a moment's notice, they're going to get a phone call and may suddenly find themselves in a situation where they have to rescue somebody.Or to really cover an undercover agent in a very dangerous situation," said Torres.
In one of the training scenarios, this reporter played the unenviable role of an undercover agent whose interaction with a drug dealer takes a dangerous turn.
"Help! Help! Put the gun down!" I screamed.
After making that urgent distress call, I wait to be saved. It is the longest minute of my life.
"For the undercover agent or the person that's in trouble, it seems forever that the clock is ticking very slowly and it just doesn't happen quickly," said Scot Rittenberg, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations.
"From a team standpoint, it was a very quick action. They went in perfectly, the timing was just right. From the time that they got the initial distress call to the time that the agent was brought out was very quick."
We play out a similar scenario in a parked car. Again, the deal goes bad.
"Our team moved in to take the appropriate action to rescue, save, keep from harm the undercover agent and then also arrest the subject that was threatening the agent," said Rittenberg.
"In this situation, you don't have a lot of time to make a decision. It has to be automatic," said Torres, who has a lot to consider before authorizing the use of the SRT. "What are the risks that are involved? What are the safety factors we have to look at. Not just the safety of our agents but the people in the community. Is it a populated area? Is it a remote area?"
It has the adrenalin-pumped drama of a Hollywood movie, but this is real work-and life and death situations. The SRT is activated two to three times a month in our area.
Team members are ordinary men and women, many with children, who volunteer for this job--serving their country in a unique way.
"Every one of them has family at home. Regular guys like your next-door neighbor. But when they're called upon, they gear up and they're ready to take on a very high-risk, dangerous situation."
"Ultimately what you want is everyone to be safe. You want everyone coming home at the end of the night."
Written by Andrea McCarren, WUSA9